The 5th International "Literature and ..." Graduate Conference: Representation and its Discontents (24-25 October 2013)

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Istanbul University, Department of American Culture and Literature
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The 5TH International "LITERATURE AND…" Graduate Student Conference:

"Representation and its Discontents"

Aristotle's "mimesis" has been the key concept for a definition of art as a representation of nature and human life in accordance with the principle of verisimilitude. Yet representation has also long been a subject of doubt and debate even when arts and literature were analyzed only in terms of their supposed relation to reality. Central to critical debates are the questions: "What is represented?"; "What must or must not be represented?"; What are the manner, purpose and uses of representation?"; "What are the abuses and misuses of representation?" The reality of reality constitutes another problem: is there a reality out there to be represented, or is it language itself that constructs a reality for us? For what we call reality can be variously represented as universal, relative, transcendental, or metaphysical. Which of these realities is the real one and who decides? The writer, or the reader, or the ideologically charged historical context in which we live?

The epistemological questions Realism struggled with were "What do we know?" and "What are the limits of our knowledge about the world and ourselves?" If we live in a world of illusions and mystifications of ideology, art works could either represent and reproduce these illusions or challenge them. But in what ways? With yet another set of illusions or with subversive means of demystification?

The attitude of modernist and postmodernist art and literature is captured in Paul Klee's statement that the function of art and literature is "not to render the visible, but to render visible." Or, if as Adorno claimed, art vindicates reality by rejecting it, can art be turned into a substitute for reality rather than provide a reflection of it?

The 5th "Literature and…" conference titled "Representation and its Discontents", will seek answers to the above questions raised by the intricate relation of art and literature to reality. The conference will be held on 24-25 October 2013 at Istanbul University. Participants are invited to analyze literary or artistic works and approaches from all periods in terms of their representational choices, as well as their refusal or questioning of representation. 300-word abstracts should be submitted by 31 March 2013 to Topics may include, but are not limited to;

- The politics of representation.
- Representations of the other defined in terms of race, gender, class, religion, age, etc. (e.g. negative stereotypes of the feminine in literature and the ways of writing and reading to subvert these negative categories.)
- The representation of desire, lack and loss; the literary/artistic manifestations of the unconscious (individual or collective).
- Representations of memory and testimony in biographies, autobiographies and history.
- The representation of the unthinkable, the unsaid, and the unseen in fantastic works (supernatural tales, horror stories, science fiction, utopian literature and surrealist texts).
- Representations of animals and our relationship with them.
- Representations of illnesses and epidemics.
- Representations of the body.
- The aesthetics of violence and suffering.